Design Career Series: Worried About Being Qualified?

Are you questioning whether or not you’ve got enough to offer a design firm at your current stage? I would encourage you to push doubts aside, get out there, and apply! In the early stages it’s only partly about getting the job, and mostly about gaining experiences.

Following my first and only year of Architecture School I decided to try to get a job. I knew that for someone like myself, who had done an undergrad in Biological Sciences, I still had a lot to learn before having much to offer a firm. I decided to face any fears of embarrassment and apply to as many companies as possible. My mantra for that summer was: “for the questions not asked, the answer will always be no.” I knew I would face rejection, but my chances of being hired would be 0% if I didn’t try, so I had to try.

Looking back on that experience, I am so glad I tried.

ONE. Each experience contributed to personal strength.
Applying at that early stage of my life allowed me to confront those “I’m not good enough,” thoughts and rip them to shreds. Even if it may have partly been true, I knew that none of that could show through in my application package or during interviews.

TWO. I got a lot of practice marketing myself.
Marketing an idea is a fundamental skill of being a designer and truthfully this was no different. I made the decision to believe in myself as a viable candidate, I brainstormed all of the reasons supporting that, and I worked on selling that in my application package and during interviews

THREE. I practiced putting together a design resume, cover letter, portfolio, and promotional piece.
In that first summer I got to know strategies behind creating the application package and learned a lot about what I would improve for my next attempts.

FOUR. I got experience with the interview process.
With each interview under my belt, the next one got a little easier. Instead of being scary, they became familiar and comfortable.

FIVE. There were a lot of opportunities for networking.
Even if you don’t get the job, you do meet a lot of people. Perhaps your skills aren’t advanced enough yet, but it doesn’t mean you can’t leave a lasting impression of the kind of person you are. If you decide to try again at that company after you graduate you will have contacts you can reach out to directly and hopefully your personality and perseverance will be remembered.

SIX. You might land a job!
There are many great people in design who are excited to mentor and teach. Design is a lifestyle, not just a job, and for that reason there are many passionate designers out there excited to share with those of us that are just learning. I was fortunate enough to meet one such professional. He hired me on to work in his office for that summer and I stayed on the following summer as well. He carefully guided me through many things, from construction details, to permit processes and community architectural politics, you name it!

So, with all of that said, do you think you’ll give applying a shot? Are there any further questions on your mind that you’d like me to address?

Comment below or email: studiocrumbs@hotmail.com

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